Earlier in November, Metroparks Toledo was a recipient of a Friend of OSU Extension Master Garden Volunteer Program. Dr. Cathann Kress, Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences presented the awards at the 2019 State Master Gardener Conference held at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on the campus of OSU.
In 2017, Metroparks Toledo took over the day-to-day operations of the Toledo Botanical Garden (TBG) which was previously managed by its own board. TBG had been the location of the OSU Extension Office in Lucas County’s Horticulture Office for 17 years and relationship between TBG, OSU and the Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) was positive.
Change can sometimes cause feelings of uneasiness and can often be disruptive. Challenges can often arise. There were many questions posed by MGVs to Extension, but Extension had a very good relationship with the Metroparks and felt that changes would only benefit both organizations.
Fast forward to today. The Extension office was asked to move to another building at TBG. The new office space overlooks the rose garden, has ample space for our MGVs to continue the Horticulture Hotline, and is in the heart of one of the Metroparks newest parks.
The relationship between Metroparks Toledo, OSU Extension and the MGVs continues to strengthen and benefits the larger community and the public that we serve. MGVs run the Horticulture Hotline out of the shared space between Extension and Metroparks Staff assigned to TBG. The staff at TBG has been outstanding to work with.
The Metroparks provides training space for our MGV classes and monthly meetings at no charge. MGVs do volunteer in the garden as Extension Volunteers and are involved in piloting a new program called the Garden Ambassadors Program. This program provides further training MGVs to be greeters and informal educators while providing garden visitors with an outstanding experience during their time in the garden and promoting the Extension office and the services that we provide.
Prior to our move to a new location, a common garden was planted at TBG and was monitored daily as part of the phenology project by MGVs. Staff at the Metroparks, alongside of MGVs, moved the garden to a new location directly behind the office. We are already seeing additional traffic through the Extension garden and the Metroparks is working on signage that will match their existing signage throughout the park.
This Metropark is our outdoor classroom for volunteers. MGVs participate in monthly diagnostic walks during the growing season. The MGVs have assisted with an ongoing hedge project where volunteers are trained through hands-on experiences to reduce the size of a formal hedge. The experience has given them training and an opportunity to practice what they learned in the classroom while lending a hand for the Metroparks on a project that staff would not have been able to accomplish without the help of volunteers.
OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and Metroparks Toledo are partners serving the residents of Lucas County. The co-located office and all of the volunteer and educational programs that occur not only benefit Extension but staff and other volunteers at the Metroparks as well. We will continue to utilize the space as an outdoor classroom not only for Extension programming, but for the benefit of all residents in Lucas County.